Lane Kiffin may no longer be coaching Jalen Hurts, but he still has his former quarterback’s back.
Kiffin was quoted in a story published by The Athletic’s Jason Kersey on Monday regarding Oklahoma’s decision to name Hurts their starting quarterback for the season (Kiffin was Hurts’ offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2016).
The last two Heisman Trophy winners have come from the Sooners’ program, which means Hurts is walking into a great situation. However, there is a belief based on what he did at Alabama that Hurts is not as good of a passer as Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
“Not to sound disrespectful, but I think those questions are ridiculous,” Kiffin told Kersey regarding questions about Hurts as a passer. “For people to ask if he can throw the ball well enough to be efficient … well, look at his freshman year. Coming out of high school, this was not a kid who they had in quarterback camps ever since he was little. This was an old-school quarterback that hadn’t had a ton of coaching. He wasn’t in all those camps and had quarterback coaches his whole life. As a freshman, he had a lot of explosive pass plays.”
Hurts passed for 2,780 yards, 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions as a freshman in 2016. He led Alabama to the championship game, where they lost to Clemson. He threw for 17 touchdowns and just one interception the following season but was benched in the national title game for Tua Tagovailoa, who kept the starting job last year, leading to Hurts’ transfer.
Expecting Hurts to match what Murray and Mayfield did is unrealistic, but maybe there’s more to him than what he was able to show at Alabama the past three years. If anyone can bring the most out of him, it’s probably Oklahoma and Lincoln Riley.
Since 2000, 16 of the 19 players to win the Heisman Trophy were quarterbacks. In other words, the best player in college football is usually adjudged to be the nation’s top signal-caller, underlining the importance of the position if a school wants a chance at claiming a conference or national title. Just ask the Oklahoma Sooners, who boast back-to-back Heisman-winning quarterbacks, both of whom played in the College Football Playoff.
Which quarterbacks are going to be the ones competing for those honors this season? Here are the ten best quarterbacks in college football in 2019.
10. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Any rebirth of Nebraska football is tied to Martinez, who was handed the quarterback job as a freshman and acquitted himself well. He threw for 2,617 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding 629 rushing yards. A better supporting cast should help those numbers go up, and some have even mentioned him as a potential dark horse Heisman candidate. That may be premature, but given Martinez’s natural talent and Scott Frost’s reputation for developing players, it may be realistic eventually.
9. D’Eriq King, Houston
King suffered a knee injury toward the end of 2018, and his recovery and health will be paramount to him reaching his potential. If King does reach his potential, he’ll easily become one of the country’s most dynamic quarterbacks. As a junior, King threw 36 touchdown passes and added 14 more rushing scores, bringing him to an even 50 on the year despite playing in only 11 games. Dana Holgorsen’s offense has the chance to make him one of the most prolific stat-producers in the entire nation.
8. Jordan Love, Utah State
After passing for 32 touchdowns and 3,567 yards last season, there’s no reason to believe Love won’t be able to turn in a repeat performance in 2019. Ranking as one of the Group of Five’s top quarterbacks, Love had a pair of 400-yard passing games in 2018, and nearly beat Michigan State in East Lansing. He has a new coach in Gary Andersen, but don’t expect that to slow him down as one of the best returning quarterbacks.
7. Shea Patterson, Michigan
Michigan was likely headed for a College Football Playoff appearance last season had they not lost to Ohio State, and that defeat largely was not Patterson’s fault. The senior enters 2019 with a lot of pressure on his shoulders given the prevailing narrative that Michigan is long overdue for a Big Ten title and has the talent to win one. They certainly have the quarterback to do it, as Patterson was good for 2,600 yards last season. The hope is that a more expansive offense will boost Patterson’s numbers and make the team even better.
6. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
After an up-and-down Alabama career, Hurts has moved to Oklahoma. Coach Lincoln Riley has made clear that Hurts is expected to compete with Tanner Mordecai for the starting job, but most expect Hurts to win it. Known primarily for his mobility, the key for Hurts will be to show improvement as a passer. However, Riley and Oklahoma’s high-powered approach to offense could make Hurts yet another Oklahoma Heisman candidate. He’d love to make it three years in a row for the Sooners.
5. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
It’s comical to now think that Ehlinger was once part of a quarterback controversy at Texas. Nobody is questioning him now. He racked up 41 total touchdowns in 2018 — 25 passing and 16 rushing — while quarterbacking the Longhorns to their first ten-win season since 2009. The junior is only getting better, and as long as there are no injuries or other issues, a Big 12 title and Heisman consideration is not out of the question for Ehlinger.
4. Justin Herbert, Oregon
Herbert surprised many when he passed on the NFL Draft despite the fact that scouts are said to be drooling over his pro potential. The beneficiary of that decision is Oregon, which will subsequently be able to play one more season with one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. Herbert is a classic pocket passer with size and a big arm, as evidenced by his 63 touchdown passes in three years with the Ducks. Don’t be surprised if he has a 30-touchdown, 3,000-yard season in the pipeline.
3. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Georgia’s second season with Fromm under center wasn’t quite as successful as the first, but it certainly wasn’t down to the quarterback, who continues to develop at an elite level. Fromm posted a 30-touchdown season and improved his completion percentage as a sophomore despite falling short of 3,000 yards. There’s no reason to believe Fromm’s development won’t continue as a junior. A higher national profile could follow if the Bulldogs can make the College Football Playoff.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
Tua was everything the Crimson Tide hoped for and then some until a poor performance and injury in the SEC Championship helped derail his Heisman hopes. His season ended with two interceptions against Clemson, where he was outplayed by Trevor Lawrence. Losing that game gives Tagovailoa something to prove, which Nick Saban knows. Tua is entirely capable of making another run at the Heisman, and it’s worth remembering that he fell just 34 yards shy of 4,000 and added 43 passing touchdowns despite the fact that he was rarely playing the entirety of Alabama blowouts.
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
For the bulk of the 2018 season, Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray were dominating the college football quarterback conversation. Lawrence proceeded to make the title game his personal coming out party. The freshman capped off a 3,000-yard season by throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns against a shell-shocked Crimson Tide defense. With no questions about his starting job and a talented team around him, Lawrence has the chance to surpass those numbers and win a Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Another national title isn’t out of the question either.
Kyler Murray helped Oklahoma make history on Thursday night when the Sooners became the first team in history to have back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks at the same position, and Jalen Hurts is hoping to put that record even further out of reach in 2020.
Hurts decided to transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma earlier this year, and he is the favorite to earn the starting job for the Sooners next season. After the Arizona Cardinals took Murray with the first overall pick in the draft, Hurts had a great reaction.
While Hurts may not end up being the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, he is certainly in good hands under Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. It’s no coincidence that Baker Mayfield and Murray both won the Heisman Trophy, and we saw what Hurts was capable of at Alabama. He has the experience and talent needed to step in and put up huge numbers in Riley’s offense.
Riley recently made it seem like Hurts is not a lock to win the starting job, but it would be a surprise if redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai beat him out. If Hurts is already thinking about being the top pick in the draft, Riley has to love the ambition.
Jalen Hurts almost certainly transferred to Oklahoma believing he would be the program’s starting quarterback. And while that may happen, the Sooners are not just handing him the job.
Hurts and redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai are battling for the job in a competition. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley insists the competition is real and not for show.
“Yeah, it’s a competition, like there’s always been here,” Riley said, via Oklahoma Daily. “We’ve always had competitions, we will always have competitions. This is a very real one.”
Hurts is a former SEC Offensive Player of the Year with 48 career touchdown passes against 12 interceptions. It’s hard to see him not winning the job. But things will only get more interesting when recruit Spencer Rattler joins them in the position battle upon arriving on campus.
H/T The Spun
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley will be coaching his third starting quarterback in as many years when the Sooners open up camp later this year, and the latest has the potential to become the school’s third consecutive Heisman Trophy winner.
In a piece he wrote for The Players’ Tribune on Wednesday, Jalen Hurts announced he has decided to transfer from Alabama to Oklahoma. He said he is proud to have received his degree from the University of Alabama and thanked Nick Saban for changing his life. Hurts also admitted what happened during the 2018 National Championship Game — when he was replaced by Tua Tagovailoa — was tough for him.
“Was what happened in the 2018 National Championship Game bittersweet? Of course it was — it was a humbling experience. It was tough, man,” Hurts wrote.
“But I am even tougher for it. I AM BUILT FOR THIS.”
Hurts, who assured Crimson Tide fans he is “Bama for LIFE,” will be eligible to play immediately at Oklahoma as a graduate transfer. Riley is, of course, in search of another starting quarterback with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray having declared for the NFL Draft. Murray took over for Baker Mayfield, who won the Heisman with the Sooners the year prior before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Many considered Miami the favorite to land Hurts, especially after the Hurricanes made their new offensive coordinator hire. Former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell, who will have two years of eligibility remaining when he is cleared, announced on Tuesday that he is heading to Miami. Oklahoma should be a great fit for Hurts.
Jalen Hurts is having himself quite a weekend.
The Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback is seeking a new college football program as a graduate transfer and has begun his process of evaluating teams. He visited with Maryland on Friday, Oklahoma on Saturday, and Sunday was his day in Miami.
According The Athletic’s Manny Navarro, Hurts met with Miami’s coaches and had dinner at Prime 112, a posh Miami steakhouse.
Navarro says Miami believes they have a 50/50 chance of landing Hurts.
Hurts spent three seasons at Alabama, starting two national championship games for the Tide. He has passed for 48 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career.
If he were to join the Hurricanes, Hurts would be reuniting with Dan Enos, an offensive assistant at Alabama who’s now the offensive coordinator at Miami.
Jalen Hurts is a busy man on the transfer circuit.
Hurts entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal during the week, indicating his intention to transfer from Alabama. The quarterback, who has one year of college eligibility left and could transfer immediately as a grad transfer, is already taking visits.
On Friday night, Hurts was spotted with former Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at a Maryland-Indiana game. Locksley was named Maryland’s new head coach.
A day later, Hurts was on Oklahoma’s campus, according to Sooner Scoop.
In addition to Maryland and Oklahoma, Hurts has also been connected to Miami.
Hurts was Alabama’s starter as a true freshman in 2016 and took them to the national championship, where they lost to Clemson. A year later he started over Tua Tagovailoa until being relieved by the backup in the second half of the championship game, where they came back to beat Georgia. Hurts became the backup in 2018, though he saw enough game action to account for 10 touchdowns and help Bama beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
The Miami Hurricanes could be on their way to turning around their football program in a hurry.
Not only have the Canes replaced Mark Richt as head coach with Manny Diaz, but they also hired Dan Enos as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Enos is a former head coach at Central Michigan who spent three years as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas before going to Alabama for the 2018 season. Enos was an associate head coach/quarterbacks coach for the Crimson Tide during their run to the national championship game.
What’s odd is that Enos was believed to be in line to be promoted to Alabama offensive coordinator and is instead heading to Miami for the same role.
There’s something more to this move that needs to be kept in mind. The hiring of Enos could impact Miami’s ability to land a major transfer.
Jalen Hurts is planning to leave Alabama as a graduate transfer. He had already shown interest in Miami prior to the announcement of Enos’ hiring by the program. If he has any interest in continuing with Enos, going to Miami would make perfect sense. Cane Sport says he is set to visit Miami on Sunday.
If the Hurricanes are able to land Hurts along with Enos, they would be in excellent shape for the 2019 season.
Jalen Hurts and the Miami Hurricanes appear to have mutual interest.
Hurts has entered his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal. Since he graduated in December as a junior, Hurts still has one year of eligibility remaining and could play immediately upon transferring.
With Hurts expected to leave the Alabama program, he should have no shortage of potential suitors. Among them could be Miami. Hurts has followed Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz and tight ends coach Brevin Jordan on Twitter.
Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman and went 26-2 as a starter at Alabama. He helped the Crimson Tide to two appearances in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Hurts was replaced during last year’s title game in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, who was named the starter for the 2018 season.
Miami landing Hurts would be a huge get for Diaz and his coaching staff. However, Diaz will have to make quite the recruiting pitch because Hurts will be a wanted man, as reports say Oklahoma and Florida State are also on Hurts’ list.
Jalen Hurts remained loyal to Nick Saban and Alabama even after he lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa last season, but we may see him playing for a different program in 2019.
According to multiple reports, Hurts has entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal. While that does not necessarily mean the quarterback is leaving Alabama, it gives other schools permission to contact him.
Hurts has one year of eligibility remaining, but he would be eligible to play immediately at a new school as a graduate transfer. He graduated from Alabama in December, which was remarkably only midway through his junior year. Hurts received a standing ovation while walking across the stage to get his diploma.
There was speculation that Hurts could take a redshirt year this past season to preserve an additional year of eligibility, but he did not end up doing that. In fact, he played a big role in Alabama’s win over Georgia in the SEC Championship after Tagovailoa got hurt, and many felt the Tide could have used him during their blowout loss to Clemson in the National Championship Game.
Hurts was critical of Alabama’s coaching staff for the way they handled the team’s quarterback situation this past year, so it is not a surprise that he is exploring other possibilities. With Tagovailoa returning in 2019, Hurts’ best shot at playing in the NFL is to start for another school next season.